The Melbourne Vixens have suffered their first defeat of the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season, going down to a spirited Adelaide Thunderbirds outfit by seven goals.
The Vixens led narrowly at every change throughout the match, before the Thunderbirds pulled away in a dominant 10-19 final term, securing the win.
Despite the fact that the Vixens won the first and third quarters of the match - and tied the second with the Thunderbirds - Melbourne Vixens’ Head Coach, Simone McKinnis OAM, said she felt like her team was fighting to hold onto the match right from the word go.
“I thought Thunderbirds played a great game tonight,” McKinnis said. “They earnt and deserved the win they had. It was disappointing from our perspective, but I think we were sort of fighting to hang in there right from the word go to be honest…so overall, a great win by Thunderbirds.”
In a condensed 2020 season, today’s match marked the Vixens’ third in eight days, however McKinnis was quick not to attribute that – nor an unexpected 5am wake up call due to the fire alarm at the team’s accommodation being activated – to her side’s performance.
“I don’t like to put it down to a flat game or lack of energy or whatever because if you want to be the best in the competition, you’ve got to find a way each time you step out on court,” McKinnis reiterated.
“I guess we were ‘off’ across the court, and on the way the Thunderbirds were playing today, that’s a loss for you right there.”
“That’s been the nature of Suncorp Super Netball since it started, it’s one of the toughest competitions around and you’ve got to be at your best and be prepared to perform each time you step out there because…every game’s a hard one.”
Vice Captain, Emily Mannix, echoed her Head Coach’s ‘learn and move on’ mantra post-match.
“It definitely wasn’t the best game that we’ve played, but I think the good thing – and the bad thing, depending on how you look at it I guess! – is that we get to move on pretty quickly from it. We’ve got a game in a couple of days against Fever, so I guess that’s a positive, that we get to move on.
“But it was a disappointing loss for us,” Mannix reflected. “It was the first loss of the season for the Vixens and not how we like to play netball, but I think we’ll take a few learnings from it and hopefully get on the right track again.”
Mannix played the majority of the game on Thunderbirds’ goal shooter, Lenize Potgieter, who played an incredible game, shooting at 100%. However, Mannix and her goal defence partners in crime – which alternated between Jo Weston and Kate Eddy throughout the match – still put up a solid defence, managing seven deflections between them.
“Potgieter is a really good goal shooter and they’ve got a few options in that goal attack position as well, so they’ve definitely grown a lot as a team the T-Birds over the past couple of seasons and you can see that in their quality of netball that they put out today. Their goalers are quite strong and are quite dynamic so I don’t think we quite adapted to that, but credit to them, they did a good job.”
The Vixens clash with the Thunderbirds was a notably physical one, with both sides being called for contact infringements on multiple occasions. But, McKinnis said she didn’t expect that to be a factor in what her team puts out on court on Tuesday.
“It’s just all about what we do tomorrow - which is not much! - so it’s recovery and just really changing the mindset; every game is another opportunity and another opportunity to learn something, to get better, to bounce back…because you know what? When you play on a weekend and you have a loss, you can’t wait for the next game. Well, now, we don’t have to wait long, so that’s a positive!”
For the club’s members and fans back in lockdown in Victoria, McKinnis also had a message.
“Get ready to watch us on Tuesday! We’ve got a group of girls that are really keen to get out there and turn that performance around today, so we’ll move on quickly. Fever are a fantastic team and we’ve got to be at our best again, and there’s nothing better than having to find your best as a team in the next game, so that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
The Vixens will now re-group and look towards their Round 5 match against the West Coast Fever, with the first centre pass occurring in less than 48 hours’ time. The Fever will host the Vixens at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena on Tuesday 18 August. You can watch the match on Telstra TV or the Netball Live App, with the broadcast commencing from 5pm.
Round 3 Statistics
Mwai Kumwenda: 25/27 (92.6%)
Caitlin Thwaites: 9/11 (81.8%)
Tegan Philip: 9/13 (69.2%)
Emily Mannix: 5 deflections, 2 gained balls
Jo Weston: 3 gained balls, 2 deflections, 2 pick ups
Kate Eddy: 2 deflections, 2 pick ups, 1 gained ball, 1 intercept, 1 goal assist
Kadie-Ann Dehaney: 2 pick ups, 1 deflection
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